How to Utilize the ADKAR Model to Manage Change the Right Way?

Mark Bridges
5 min readDec 7, 2018

Not many people have heard about the ADKAR Model!

Developed by Jeff Hiatt — the Founder of Prosci (a Change Management research and advisory) — the ADKAR Change Management Model is a potent tool for professionals and leaders responsible to manage and sustain successful change. ADKAR stands for 5 sequential building blocks that are essential to drive successful change at both the people as well as the business dimension:

  • Awareness: All employees must be aware of the business reasons for change.
  • Desire: All stakeholders should have the desire to participate and fully support change.
  • Knowledge: All stakeholders should have a thorough understanding of the change process and its ultimate objectives.
  • Ability: All people should have the ability to realize and implement change on a daily basis at the required performance level.
  • Reinforcement: Reinforcement to sustain change makes it clear for all employees that there is no turning back.

Transformation initiatives — mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, and the like — are always challenging to manage due to reluctance from people (employees, managers, and executives) in embracing the new state, program or behavior. Administering change at the personal or organizational level necessitates innovative approaches to facilitate trouble-free transition to the desired state. The ADKAR Change Management Model is a simple tool where each step of the model outlines a successful journey through change and aligns with specific activities associated with leading change. The model is useful to implement even in situations where an existing transformation initiative is not gaining traction, to identify gaps within the process, and to highlight areas needing focused corrective action to improve change success. To effectively enforce change, an enterprise needs to work on two dimensions:

  • The Organization
  • The People

For the change to be fruitful, it has to take place concurrently at both the dimensions. To successfully implement the ADKAR model, it is critical to understand all the factors impacting a change initiative and its success. Let’s take a deeper look at each of the change dimensions.

The Organization Dimension

At the organizational level, the structured approach provided by the ADKAR Change Management Model permits leaders and teams to focus their activities on what will drive individual change and achieve organizational results. The organizational dimension is described by concrete attributes of projects or the default sequential steps required to implement a new solution:

  • Determine a business need / opportunity
  • Identify the project scope and objectives
  • Design the business solution
  • Develop new processes and systems
  • Implement the solution into the organization

The People Dimension

Transformation cannot be realized alone by utilizing project management approaches or other best practices, facilitating change at the individual level helps embed it. The five key outcomes to be realized on the people side of ADKAR Change Management Model are:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to participate and support the change
  • Knowledge of how to change
  • Ability to implement the change on a day-to-day basis
  • Reinforcement to keep the change in place

An organization cannot be treated as a homogeneous mass of people during implementation of the ADKAR Model, since individuals’ capabilities and pace to learn vary dramatically. The sustainability of the transformation initiatives should be periodically analyzed, alongside recognition and rewards for those employees who embrace change. Reinforcement in the form of more training or coaching can help in preventing employees to revert to their old habits and adopting new processes.

Interested in gaining more understanding on how to implement the ADKAR Change Management Model? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about the ADKAR Change model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Mark Bridges

I blog about various management frameworks, from Strategic Planning to Digital Transformation to Change Management.